09 Nov How Does Real Estate Fit Into The Green Movement?

A recent Advertising Age article asks the question, “Has Green Stopped Giving?”

While the answer the publication gives is more focused on house hold products, I think there are some distinct similarities with the housing market to discuss.  It appears that consumers are starting to slightly abandon the idea of sustainable products for different reasons.  There are three distinct skepticisms of green products as reported by Advertising Age.  These include the idea that green alternatives are too expensive, they don’t work as well, and they aren’t really that much better for the environment.  Each experienced a multiple point increase from 2008 surveys.

What does this mean for the housing market?  While consumer attitudes are similar when it comes to sustainability, buying a home and buying detergent are two different things.  While you may think that a sustainable lifestyle would encourage both, it doesn’t.  The truth is that most sustainable homes will be bought with cost savings in mind.  The three complaints listed above reinforce the need for tangible proof of energy savings, cost savings, and environmental benefits for new homes.  If I decide to buy “green” dishwasher detergent I will be doing so with the idea of health and environmental consciousness in mind.  I am not doing it to save money.  This is the difference in the housing market.  While buyers definitely want a healthy and environmentally friendly home, it really comes to the money saved on energy.

A big problem with sustainable packaging and their claims right now has a lot to do with lofty claims that can’t be measured.  Consumers need to be shown exactly where they will be saving energy, saving money, and reducing emissions.  A claim isn’t enough as most of these sustainable products come at a greater cost to consumers.  Homebuilders must be able to stress both the environmental benefits and money saving benefits equally.  This along with a credible seal of approval like LEED or EarthCraft certification are necessary in today’s and tomorrow’s markets.

Sibet B Freides